An innovative olive oil drinks company, founded in The Netherlands by the entrepreneur James Peterzon, has developed a patented method for producing tasty, one-a-day olive shots that anyone can take as part of their drive to eat a healthy diet and benefit from the claimed benefits of olive oil consumption. The company, Olivious®, has worked closely with GEA to generate a robust, reliable homogenization process, which generates a flavorful emulsion from the mix of olive oil and other ingredients, and which is shelf stable for 6-8 weeks, and so easier to store and to transport.

It’s all about the right diet

The Mediterranean diet is one of the most well studied diets worldwide, and has been linked with a range of benefits to human health, from reducing the risk or burden of cardiovascular disease, obesity, asthma and some cancers, to lowering the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, and even increasing lifespan.1, 2, 3

The Mediterranean diet, broadly, is based on a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes/nuts, and fish as the primary protein source, with a low intake of red and processed meats, and the monounsaturated fats (oleic acid) in olive oil representing the major source of dietary fat.2, 3

Not all olive oils are created equal

In a traditional Mediterranean diet the olive oil would be extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Many studies have correlated the consumption of extra virgin olive oil, and particularly the antioxidant polyphenols it contains, with better overall health.4, 5, 6 These polyphenolic compounds are also being actively investigated for their purported biological and pharma-nutritional properties.7

EVOO, produced from the first pressing of the olive fruits, contains tocopherol and phytosterol antioxidants, as well as polyphenols. Some of the postulated cardiovascular-benefiting properties of olive oil have been attributed to either the oleic acid content, or to the bioactivity of these polyphenols, which are present in EVOO, but which are not found in refined varieties of olive oil.2

Olive oil

Why an olive shot?

With published studies on the potential health benefits of olive oil mounting, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) acknowledged that "Olive oil polyphenols contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress. The claim may be used only for olive oil, containing at least 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (e.g. oleuropein complex and tyrosol) per 20 g of olive oil. In order to bear the claim information shall be given to the consumer that the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 20 g of olive oil".8

It’s encouraging to think that something as simple as increasing our consumption of olive oil might help benefit heart, and other aspects of health, but for some people, a significant obstacle to incorporating 20g of olive oil in the daily diet is that, taken alone, olive oil is intrinsically quite sour, and can leave an unpleasant taste in the throat.

Hence the concept of generating a more acceptable olive oil-based formulation that we might enjoy every day, as a tasty, premeasured shot.  As Peterzon commented, his thought  

I should develop a tasty olive shot. A daily portion using authentic, extra virgin olive oil from Sardinia’s Blue zone, but with a different texture and available in delicious flavors that everyone can enjoy."- James Peterzon, founder, Olivious®

Blue zone olives

Sardinia is one of the world’s five geographical “Blu zones”, which are parts of the world characterized by having the healthiest, particularly long-lived populations. In fact, Sardinia is home to the highest concentration of male centenarians anywhere in the world. Using olives from trees in this region, Peterzon developed the recipe for an olive shot that contains just extra virgin olive oil, water, vegetal lecithin, agave syrup and natural flavourings. This unique recipe makes it easy for anyone to drink that 20 g of extra virgin olive oil, every day, but without a bitter aftertaste or annoying tickle in the throat.

Perfecting the recipe, formulation and process was critical to generating a commercially viable product that consumers would love. In 2018 Olivious® started working with GEA to fine tune the recipe and introduce a high pressure homogenization stage that would result in the ideal emulsion, increase and improve stability, and so enable a longer, 6-8 weeks shelf life.

GEA understands how to work with a startup"- James Peterzon, founder, Olivious®

TriplexPanda Lab Homogenizer

Working with GEA

GEA was an invaluable partner throughout the project, from product formulation, to obtaining the desired consistency. In particular, GEA equipment, and expertise at its Process Technology Center for homogenization in Parma allowed James to test different product recipes and optimize the homogenization process.

By evaluating different recipes to help understand the behaviour and properties of final product, they developed a recipe, formulation and high pressure homogenization process that produced an olive shot with just the right viscosity, and a great shelf life.

The success of the project prompted James and the company to try out a GEA three-piston TriplexPanda Lab Homogenizer at the Olivious® pilot plant, which is located at the Food Application Centre for Technology (FACT), Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences. The pilot plant is producing Olivious shots at batch scale, alongside further testing of the mixing, pasteurization, and homogenization processes. 

We realized that GEA can fulfil all of our demands for processing equipment, and alongside the homogenizer, we are investing in a GEA vacuum processor, and are looking to acquire GEA filling equipment, as well"- James Peterzon, founder, Olivious®

Olivious olive oil shot